Somewhat lost in the first-hand account of last week’s helicopter crash by NY Times reporter Alissa Rubin, who was injured in the incident, was a potentially important revelation about the attacks on the Iraqi Yazidi minority.
The pilot really made a big impression. You know, the Yazidis feel so betrayed by the Arab neighbors they had lived among for so many years; they all turned on the Yazidis when ISIS came. Many of the atrocities were carried out not by the militants but by their own neighbors.
The focus in the story is on the pilot, himself a Sunni Arab from the region, trying to save his neighbor Yazidis even as others had turned on them. That’s important, without a doubt, but ignores the more important point, that ISIS didn’t actually carry out many of the attacks on the Yazidis.
So to sum up, President Obama started a war to save 40,000 trapped Yazidis from ISIS, and there weren’t 40,000 of them, and they weren’t trapped, and now it turns out ISIS also wasn’t nearly so involved as previously indicated. America was lied into the first Iraq War in 2003 on some mightly flimsy pretexts, but it seems the administration didn’t learn any of the lessons, even bad lessons like keeping your lies less transparent, and the whole pretext collapsed in just over a week. The war, however, will go on much, much longer.
In the wake of the U.S.-engineered coup in Ukraine, the Western Press warns us solemnly and relentlessly that Vladimir Putin is Beelzebub himself, the leader of a vicious and backward Russia. Such deceit is reckless in the extreme since it puts the U.S. at odds with a nuclear power, one that is far from the weak nation that a condescending and insulting Obama sought to depict in his recent interview with The Economist, debunked here. Of course such lies are not new. In our own lifetimes they have been generated to justify US interventions in Korea, Iran, Guatamala, Cuba, Vietnam, Brazil, Chile, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and the list goes on.
What are we to do in the face of this avalanche of lies? Such deception becomes most intense when directed at the three paramount and enduring enemies in the eyes of the US imperial elite – China, Russia and Iran.
But all is not lost. We now have a plan to combat these falsehoods, thanks to Secretary of State John Kerry whom we in Massachusetts know all too well as a blundering, blustering, bellicose blowhard –and, lest we forget, a nauseating narcissist. The Blowhard recently warned us not to read the Russian outlet RT.com, which he decried as a "bullhorn" for Russian propaganda. I have often heard truth coming over bullhorns on street corner rallies, but I have yet to hear an iota of it from a blowhard – most especially this one.
This leads us to a modest proposal for one’s daily regimen, as bracing as an early morning run. Each day quickly peruse RT.com from Russia, China Daily from China and PressTV from Iran. Or at least look at the headlines – and see whether you want to read more.
Israel’s slaughter of over 1900 Palestinians in Gaza, by far and away most of whom were civilians, got me thinking about Western civilization. Mahatma Gandhi is often cited as responding to a question about Western civilization saying he thought it would be a good idea. However, recent research suggests Gandhi likely didn’t make this quip.
Regarding Western civilization though, there are many impressive accomplishments such as the Renaissance, wonderful arts, tremendous scientific discoveries and medical advances, and the great ideas of liberty and human rights. However, these advances are countered by events such as the Spanish Inquisition, slavery, Western colonial conquest and butchery in Africa, Asia and the Americas, US genocide of the American Indians, the Belgian robbery of and murderous campaign in the Congo Free State, WWI with its almost 14 million deaths, and the Jim Crow racism in the US.
Even if we only examine events since 1940, the Nazi Holocaust killed over 11 million people, including about 6 million Jews. WWII resulted in over 60 million deaths. War crimes such as the fire bombing of cities were followed by the unconscionable US use of atomic bombs against Japan on August 6th and August 9th, 1945.
The use of nuclear weapons eventually led to the mad policy of mutual assured destruction between the US and the USSR that threatened the entire world with destruction. That insane policy is still in play today, now between the US and Russia.
Israel’s month-long military barrage of Gaza known as "Protective Edge" included numerous attacks on civilian-populated sites, including on homes, hospitals, mosques, markets and United Nation (UN) schools-turned-shelters. To date, Israel’s assault has killed at least 1,300 Palestinian civilians, including over 400 children, and injured more than 10,000. An estimated half a million people have been displaced. Upwards of 10,000 homes have been destroyed and countless others partially damaged. Strikes on some of the abovementioned sites have prompted international calls for officials of Israel’s government to be investigated for possible war crimes in Gaza.
Referring to the deadly July 30 attack on a UN school, the human rights organization Amnesty International argued that "If the strike on this school was the result of Israeli artillery fire it would constitute an indiscriminate attack and a likely war crime." On August 7, citing "mounting evidence" that Israel engaged in “apparently deliberate attacks against hospitals and health professionals in Gaza" which "left six medics dead" and injured many more, Amnesty International called for an "immediate investigation." The organization also published “disturbing testimonies from doctors, nurses, and ambulance personnel” which detailed "harrowing" lifesaving efforts of medical personnel faced with an "utterly impossible situation" of working "with bombs and bullets killing or injuring their colleagues." Military attacks of this sort, according to Amnesty International, "are absolutely prohibited by international law and would amount to war crimes" and "only add to the already compelling argument that the situation should be referred to the International Criminal Court."
After over a decade of war, President Obama sent 200 troops to Iraq this summer to act as aids to the Iraqi government in their ongoing battle with ISIS. The President’s actions, of course, completely contradict the vow he made to the American people to end the War in Iraq back in 2008, but that’s no matter now. The President is dead set on spending more taxpayer dollars and sending more American troops into an endless battle that, so far, has proven fruitless.
Yet, the futility of the mission does not preclude individual actors from acting bravely. Since taking office, President Obama has rewarded eleven Medals of Honor – twice as much as his predecessor. In the media, the American public is subject to a barrage of tales and images describing the glory of war and heroism under fire. America’s "brave men and women in uniform" are constantly heralded in ads, parades, sporting events, and on yellow ribbon bumper stickers urging fellow Americans to "Support The Troops." This hero worship has even gone so far as to use wounded soldiers as a political ploy, as President Obama did in showcasing army ranger Cory Remsburg during his State of the Union address this year. Sgt. First Class Remsburg was hit with an improvised explosive device on his tenth deployment into battle. Nobody doubts that Sgt. Remsburg is a real American hero, but should he had to become one in the first place?
There is an untold secret in our nation’s proud military. Stated bluntly, the majority of America’s armed forces are not heroes and don’t want that title themselves. In fact, I spoke with three military men and heard this theme emerge repeatedly. When asked, in his opinion, what the biggest misconception civilians have about the military, one of the three – Senior Airman Micheal Worton – claimed that being in the military is more like being a "guy in movie ‘Office Space,’ but you’re wearing camo instead of a suit." Many Americans fail to realize that the majority of service member work normal jobs like administration, accounting, and engineering without seeing combat.